While Virginia men's coach Pete Gillen sweats out the final month of college basketball recruiting, Cavalier women's coach Debbie Ryan can rest easy. Ryan sewed up a six-player 2000 recruiting class with a pair of commitments last week.
Highly-touted guards Chelsea Whitaker and Anna Prillaman headline a group that got a further boost Wednesday, when Ryan signed post players Brandi Teamer and Joanna Kemp. The class also includes 5-foot-11 guard Kristen Ambrose and New York point guard Safiya Grant.
Freshman forward Anna Crosswhite, who redshirted this season on the Cavalier bench, also should join the fray next year.
Virginia loses only three players to graduation in May: point guard Renee Robinson, power forward Lisa Hosac and reserve guard Lauren Swierczek. But Ryan said the Cavs needed to recruit a strong and sizable class this offseason to prepare for next spring, when five players will depart.
Teamer and Kemp should provide Virginia with a host of options in the paint next season, joining three Cav returners.
"At the end of the year, we saw great play from Marcie Dickson in the post," Ryan said. "And of course Dean'na Mitchelson gave us great play throughout the year. And Elena [Kravchenko] has gotten better and stronger."
Ryan said she hates to make direct comparisons between players, but she did point out that Teamer, a 6-foot-2 forward from Miami, possesses many of the skills that helped Schuye LaRue earn ACC Rookie of the Year honors this year for the Cavs.
"Brandi is a great athlete, first of all," Ryan said. "She jumps well, rebounds well and has a nice touch around the basket. She's got inside and outside moves."
Kemp, a 6-foot-3 center from Krum, Texas, is expected to give Virginia a more physical presence in the paint.
"Joanna is a very big post player who can bring some power, strength and size," Ryan said. "We've been known as a finesse team in the post, but she can help give us some power."
Whitaker and Prillaman will lead the new wave in the backcourt. Whitaker, a 5-foot-8 point guard from Dallas, stands a good chance of taking over for Robinson at the point. Prillaman is a 5-foot-9 sharpshooter who led Richmond's Midlothian High School to an undefeated season and a state championship.
The addition of Ambrose, a Minnesota native, gives incumbent shooting guard Telisha Quarles another marksman to practice against. Ryan said the 5-foot-6 Grant might redshirt her freshman year.
Ryan acknowledged the role Virginia's Sweet Sixteen season played, but Crosswhite said the Cavs employed an equally effective recruiting tool.
"Anyone would be impressed just being around our team, seeing how we get along and enjoy each other," Crosswhite said. "Practice is never a drag."